Four local artists are disrupting the West’s Marlboro Man stereotype as part of Cowboy, a venue-wide exhibition (September 29 to February 18) at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.

In Plains’ Sight

During the summer of 2021, Denver photographer Juan Fuentes documented the lives of modern-day Mexican cowboys in the Eastern Plains town of Bennett—from rows of water tanks and fence lines (“Untitled,” pictured) to cowboy hats being sold alongside El Torito Regio sauce at local markets—for his series 36 Miles East.

Note To Self

Grace Kennison’s “I Remember Being Alone”—in which a sword-wielding angel bears down on a cowgirl holding a knife to a snarling dog—“explores my desire to pull myself out from under the hard, isolate American soul.” The painting, in other words, is an acknowledgment of white women’s culpability in genocide and settler colonialism. It is also a rejection of the belief that violence was justified to tame the West. “I am expelling myself from the fantasy that it represents,” says Kennison, who is white and lives in northern Colorado, “naming the killer, and moving again toward liberation.”

Signs Of The Times

Buffalo Bill Cody’s famed Wild West show featured cowboys from around the world, including the American-occupied Philippines. Those Filipino horsemen were largely forgotten until visual artist Yumi Janairo Roth and gender studies scholar Emmanuel David, both Filipino Americans and professors at the University of Colorado Boulder, launched We Are Coming. Named for Cody’s messianic marketing slogan “I Am Coming,” the project displayed the names of two men and one woman on the marquees of vintage Western venues, and the MCA Denver will even install a marquee of its own.

Courtesy of Yumi Janairo Roth and Emmanuel David (“We Are Coming” {Boulder Theater, Boulder, CO}, 2022)